AT&T vs. Spectrum Comparison 2021 (Which Is Better?)

AT&T and Spectrum are both full-service providers, offering a range of different services, including mobile service, which we’ll review here. While you may think AT&T has the coverage advantage, Spectrum uses Verizon for mobile coverage, which has better coverage than AT&T.

AT&T allows you to have mobile service as an independent service, but Spectrum requires you to have an internet account and can add mobile service to your account. So when comparing prices, you need to take that into consideration.

Let’s review and see how AT&T and Spectrum compare so that you can pick the best plan for you.

AT&TSpectrum
Best 4G Coverage
Best 5G Coverage
Best Overall Coverage
Lowest Prices
PerksHBO MaxNone
Unlimited Premium Data0 GB – 100 GB Guaranteed. Only top-tier plans get guaranteed premium data20 – 30 GB Guaranteed on unlimited plans. Speeds will drop after that.
Hotspot DataUp to 30 GBUnlimited but slowed after 5 GB.

The better coverage for Spectrum is due to their use of Verizon as their backend provider for towers. So what we’re comparing heavily here is how well AT&T and Verizon measure up against each other.

Spectrum does not offer anything in the way of real perks. However, it does offer 5G hotspot coverage which is not always available with smaller carriers.

AT&T vs. Spectrum Prices and Plans

Spectrum provides three plans, pay by the gig, which costs $14 per gig, the Unlimited plan detailed below, and the Unlimited Plus plan for $39.99. 

AT&T offers a wide range of plans and different data limits depending on how much you pay. You can also get good discounts close to Spectrums prices if you have 4+ lines on the same account.

AT&TSpectrum
Plan NameAT&T Unlimited StarterSpectrum Unlimited
Price$65$29.99
Data IncludedUnlimited, but speeds reduced during peak times.Unlimited
Premium DataNone, AT&T can lower your speed as needed.20 GB
SMS / VoiceUnlimitedUnlimited
Hotspot15 GB premium, lower speeds after that.5 GB premium, lower speeds after that.

Spectrum wins the price and plan comparison, mainly due to cost and not being limited on data for the cheaper plans. You do get limits on your hotspot data, but 5 GB is still a lot to be using, so the limits won’t kick it quickly.

AT&T charging more and then guaranteeing that you’ll be limited during peak times so they can look after their customers paying even more, doesn’t sit well with me personally as a customer.

AT&T Pros and Cons 

Pros
  • AT&T provides high data caps
  • One of the most extensive coverages available, often fighting to be #1 in the US.
  • Excellent download speeds when compared to almost all competitors.
  • You can upgrade your phone even when you haven’t paid off the last one.
Cons
  • With less coverage for rural customers, you may not get AT&T as an option.
  • Basic plans are limited and unlimited plans are very expensive.
  • Cheaper plans have lower streaming quality.
  • Only the most expensive plan offers not throttling.

Spectrum Pros and Cons 

Pros
  • Much cheaper rates, as long as you’re a current Spectrum internet customer.
  • Excellent coverage is provided by Verizon, a major network provider.
  • No peak-time data speed limiting
Cons
  • Your monthly cost will go up if you drop Spectrum as your internet provider.
  • Limited plan options and a little confusing.
  • Lower premium data allowance before your speed goes down.
  • No added perks aside from low price.

AT&T vs. Spectrum Coverage

Because Spectrum uses Verizon for its coverage, you are really comparing what Verizon covers vs. what AT&T covers. Spectrum can offer better overall coverage across the country. You will need to check coverage maps to ensure your specific location has good coverage.

Make sure that your area and other locations you often visit, including out of state, have good coverage using the maps below. It doesn’t matter how good overall coverage is; it matters how good the coverage in your area is.

View AT&T’s coverage map

View Spectrum’s coverage map.

As AT&T and Verizon fight over having better coverage, you’ll likely see new areas covered in each map, so check back once in a while to see whether you could switch to a better plan that includes new better coverage for your area.

Spectrum currently wins the coverage battle with AT&T, and this is all thanks to Verizon. 

AT&T vs. Spectrum Speed

Both AT&T and Spectrum offer excellent speeds as long as you have good coverage with the provider and stay within your limits. Both companies will limit your speeds, either at certain times of the day or when you hit preset limits on downloads.

AT&T guarantees that it will limit cheaper plans at certain times of day, but more expensive plans can get up to 100 GB of premium speed data at all times of the day.

Spectrum doesn’t advertise limited speeds during the day but only offers 20-30 GB of premium data, at which point they will start limiting your speeds.

AT&T reports being the fastest provider in the US, but online reviews are mixed between what AT&T and Spectrum can offer. This is likely due to location, congestion, and even your phone.

AT&T wins the speed competition mainly because they offer more guaranteed premium data which is an important part of your mobile data experience; if you’re downloading a lot or heavily using data, getting limited is a major issue. 

AT&T vs. Spectrum Perks

Spectrum offers its biggest perk through the much cheaper rates that it provides to customers. It also has a good range of features that does outshine many smaller mobile carriers. Specifically, you can get 5G hotspot usage with up to 5 GB of unlimited premium speeds.

AT&T offers a range of perks that Spectrum can’t compete with, and this includes a free HBO max subscription as well as access to the AT&T rewards program that most customers can sign up for and pick from their options.

The rewards program from AT&T can be found by going to https://www.att.com/att/attthanks/en/index.html. What you’ll find is access to deals and discounts on local restaurants, retailers, and even cheap tickets to events. So it can end up being a great option if you want those things.

AT&T clearly wins the perks competition because Spectrum doesn’t offer anything that AT&T doesn’t, aside from lower prices on plans.

AT&T vs. Spectrum Reputation

AT&T has a spotty reputation that many people are aware of. The company is not well known for having excellent customer service or reasonable prices on any of its products. There are thousands of reviews online complaining about service and lack of support for all AT&T services.

Spectrum, as a mobile provider, has a good reputation. However, Spectrum is part of Charter. Charter’s reputation, while being better than AT&T, still has some flaws, and customers don’t consider them to be an excellent company with fantastic service.

Spectrum is the winner for reputation. It’s a much newer company and less well-known, so time will tell how well they will do as they become larger. AT&T is such a massive company with many preconceived ideas and a  lot of history to make up for.

AT&T vs. Spectrum Verdict

When comparing each of the sections above, we can see it’s a tight competition between AT&T and Spectrum, mainly thanks to Spectrum using Verizon’s network for the coverage and speed benefits.

Spectrum wins most sections except for the perks, which it can’t compete with AT&T on, and the speed section due to the lower amount of premium data you can get with more expensive plans. 

AT&T vs. Spectrum: Which is Better?

Both AT&T and Spectrum offer an excellent service, my personal choice would be Spectrum, but there are a number of factors that you need to consider when making your choice. 

AT&T offers much better perks, so if HBO Max and the available discounts with AT&T give you a lot of benefit, you’ll need to consider them. AT&T may also be a better coverage match for you, and their premium data limits may be required if you’re streaming heavily.

Click here to view AT&T’s options.

Spectrum offers a basic service with few options, and the price is the best perk and option they provide. Their use of Verizon gives them excellent speed and coverage in most locations, and they don’t advertise dropping your speed except when you use all of your premium data for the month.

Click here to see what options Spectrum has to offer.

So consider which is more important for you, perks from AT&T or low prices from Spectrum, and that will be the determining factor in your choice. Also, keep an eye on your download speeds for either company to ensure you don’t get limited too often or before you’ve used your allowance.